When I joined Doula UK in 2002 there were not many of us but most of our members at that time attended all meetings. I had done my training with BOND (British School of Nurturing Doulas) and decided to connect with my nearest doula, which happened to Nicola Wilson. She invited me to come along to a Doula UK meeting which was being held at her house in Bucks Hill, literally around the corner from me, in Hertfordshire.
I remember turning up at this beautiful house and being welcomed with hugs and love. Hilary Lewin, the chair at the time, was there in her beret and they were all so welcoming and warm. We all sat in a big circle, probably around 40 of us, and talked about how to grow the organisation and spread the knowledge about doulas. I can vividly remember someone having taken on the task of creating a charity and over the years (14 of them!!) this person has changed numerous times. Here we now are in 2016 and ready to turn this vision into reality as we turn Doula UK into a Community Interest Company (CIC), which presented itself as the perfect option for Doula UK in the end.
Being a new and very keen doula, I offered to help with whatever needed doing and I was given the role of helping out with the website as I had some experience of this in my previous background. I used to be a Desktop Engineer for a management company and had limited experience of the WWW as it was all quite new still.
In 2004, Vida Rye, another founder of Doula UK and the person responsible for building the very first website handed over all responsibility to me as she was moving to New Zealand. Back in those days (sounds like I’m over a hundred), most homes did not have internet connections so it was a case of unplugging the phone and plugging the cable from the computer in and dial up for access to the internet. This method was painfully slow and the only way websites could be updated was by using software called FTP. I’m sure there’s a few of you out there remembering the dialling tone and the sounds when the connection was made with the modem on the other side. There was also no lovely website interface, like WordPress or Weebly, just all written in code. I had no experience whatsoever in coding and spent many hours trying to get the right part in bold, underlined, italic or indeed, just a space between paragraphs!
It was hours of dedication and learning by making mistakes. Compared to what we have today, it’s quite unbelievable that anyone would take on such a job! I’m grateful for what I learnt during those years and it still comes in handy now when I want to do my own bits of coding. It was also in 2004 that we also started our recognition process and the year were a few new doula courses appeared in the UK.
I felt so welcomed to the cuddle of doulas back in 2002 and hope that I can give that same gift to all new doulas that join our organisation.
Kicki Hansard is Chair of Doula UK